On the up · 25 May 2018

Voom 2018 winners: Who are Richard Branson’s most promising entrepreneurs?

Voom 2018
Peter Kelly, Mo Farah, Nigel Blanchard and Richard Branson

Business Advice headed to London’s Tobacco Dock at a gathering of the UK’s most promising startup companies to find out who Virgin founder Richard Branson and his hand-picked panel of entrepreneurs selected as Voom 2018 winners.

The winners came from the six Voom finalists who pitched their business idea live to a panel made up of Richard Branson, Richard Reed, Susie Ma, Sophie Morgan and Virgin Media Business MD, Peter Kelly.

The UK and Ireland’s biggest pitching competition run by Virgin Media Business based at Tobacco Dock on Wednesday 23 May had two new categories this year: the spark & start category for startup companies and scale & grow category for more established small and medium sized businesses.

Winning the spark & start award for Junior Einsteins, founder Tracey-Jane Cassidy pitched the winning concept which was a science club which inspires children through hands-on interactive experiments and amazing science events.

Junior Einsteins currently operates in Ireland, but Cassidy hopes to put the money towards franchising her business so she can set up bases across the UK.

Voom 2018 winners
The Voom 2018 winners

Host of Voom 2018, BBC presenter Alex Jones, claimed she particularly loved the motto of the business “teaching children how to think, not what to think.”

Commenting on her win, Cassidy said: “As a woman in science I certainly think it’s important to get little girls as well as boys understanding how science works.”

Talking to Cassidy, Branson said: “I have four grandchildren now, I know my daughter would definitely sign up. It seems like a wonderful thing you’re doing.”

Rebecca Bright won the scale & grow category with Therapy Box, a business that uses artificial intelligence to diagnose hidden communication disabilities.

Branson amongst other judges wanted to have joint winners for the growth & scale category with Therapy Box and Rejuce, a fruit juice company aiming to reduce food waste in the UK, at neck and neck in his opinion.

However, Therapy Box pipped Rejuce to the post and claimed the number one spot. Bright claimed her business has saved the NHS £6m.

Bright said the traditional “watch and wait” technique which GPs often use can damage individuals physically and mentally.

“If children aren’t picked up at an early stage, they risk being put behind their peers. At such a key time of their learning, but also self-confidence and being able to work on what their strengths and weaknesses are.”

Both winners won a share of the £1m prize pot including a five-figure cash prize, an out-of-home advertising campaign and an extensive package of mentoring and services to help them accelerate and grow their business.

Earlier this week in Manchester, the 80 businesses battled it out in the semi-finals for one of the six places in the grand final.

Mo Farah also made an appearance at the event and awarded Heroes4Hire for going the extra mile in business. The business helps find employment for ex British service personnel.

The Heroes4Hire team was identified as being as dedicated to their cause as Farah is to running.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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